When people tell me they would like to start exercising, I often suggest mornings. For many people, it is the best time. When you exercise early, the day cannot get away from you with crises precluding a workout. There are a lot fewer work emergencies at 6:00 a.m. vs. 6:00 p.m. We tend to have the most willpower in the morning, and you only have to shower once.
But over the past few weeks I have been experimenting with a different option: post-dinner, post-baby bedtime. It has worked better than I thought it would on the nights I try it, as long as I remember that something is better than nothing.
I started trying evening exercise as a logical extension from my nap-time cue. Since I have been on solo toddler duty on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during ski season, when he goes down for a nap, I try to hop on the treadmill. Other things may or may not get done before he wakes up, but at least I will exercise.
I aim to exercise in the afternoons during the work week, but when that did not happen for a few days, I realized that his bedtime could be a cue too.
There are practical arguments against it. I am kind of tired by evening. I have generally eaten dinner, likely with a glass of wine. The baby may be in bed but the big kids are still around. And will evening exercise keep me awake?
But when I tried getting on the treadmill at 8:00 p.m., I realized that none of these arguments precluded doing something. An hour after eating I am perfectly capable of running, as long as I have not stuffed myself. The glass of wine is likewise mostly processed. A bonus: I am not worried about being sweaty for any later video calls or meetings.
I do not run for long. Last night I ran for a grand total of 20 minutes (I aim to do at least 2 miles — that was with intervals up to 9.2 mph, including one 90-second dash at 9.0). That said, I find the treadmill tedious enough that I seldom go much longer than 30 minutes anyway. I was also interrupted twice during those 20 minutes by children requiring something. This was annoying, but since I was doing intervals, I chose to view those breaks as, well, rest breaks. As for sleeping, these days I pop a melatonin before bed, so I tend to go down pretty easy.
The 8:00 p.m. slot is not my favorite. But if I have not run during the day, seizing it is the difference between exercising that day and not exercising that day. There are 3 hours between when the baby goes down at 7:30 p.m. and when I go down at 10:30 p.m. Using 20-30 minutes to exercise is a way to maximize this time while preserving babysitting hours for work.
Have you ever exercised at night? What is your verdict?
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